Align with Freedom: 30-Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 27

Day 25: Integration 1

30 min - Practice
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In Day 25 we enter a new theme of "Integration" to allow ourselves to blossom open into meditation through the physical postures. We use the alignments and actions of asana to help open the body and call in a new sense of clarity and calm.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket

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Welcome back, and thank you again for taking the time to treat yourself with a yoga practice today. We're in a special place in our journey together. We're at day 25 and entering into a new theme called integration. In this theme, it will be all about blossoming open meditation through yoga asana. What we're looking to do is use the alignments and actions of yoga asana to help open the body and bring the body into a sense of clarity, self-reflection, and calm, even though it is through a physical practice.

We're going to start ourselves at the head of the mat, feet together, arms along your sides. Take the attention inward and feel your body today. Any thoughts? Any ideas going on? You can allow them into your awareness as well.

Feel your breath move in and out of the body. We'll start today with a little bit of movement, sun salutation A. Inhale, arms up, breath in. Exhale, soft knees, fold forward. Hang out here for just a minute. Let your body relax into this pose.

Hands on the floor, step back. Let's take the knees to the floor for the first one. Bend the elbows. Again, exhale, dropping the chest close to the floor. And point the toes back, legs and body now on the floor, a little easy cobra.

Roll the sacrum and tailbone toward the heels, lifting the chest, and then release down. Tuck the toes. We'll press up to a downward facing dog. Take some time here to move your legs. Any adjusting that you need to do.

Again, noticing the body, noticing the movement of breath. Let's hold dog pose for a breath or two. Raise the heels. We'll take an easy step forward to the front of the mat. Feet together, breath in to look forward and lengthen the spine.

Exhale again, soften your knees, drop the trunk down. Inhale, come all the way up. Let's take the arms overhead. Exhale hands to your sides. Again, inhale, arms.

Exhale, soft knees, fold forward. Exhales on the floor, we'll step back. Now your choice this time, all the way to the floor or follow me into chaturanga. Exhaling we go down. Inhale, push over the tops of the toes, either baby cobra or coming up into up dog.

Exhale your way to down dog. Again, any movements you want to do to help open up the body, get ready for today's practice. And to build up that internal heat. Then raise the heels, look forward. Again, we'll step forward to the front.

Feet together, long straight legs, inhale, look forward. And then exhale, soften the knees. Hang the trunk down. Then inhale, come all the way up to standing arms overhead, and exhale your hands down. A traditional sun salutation day.

Inhale arms, exhale straight legs forward fold. Inhale, look forward, lengthen your spine. Exhale hands to the floor, jump or step back, chaturanga. Up dog inhale. Down dog press back.

Take a few breaths here. Again, any movement you want to do, please do take care of that. Move the body. Take one more breath in your dog pose. And then inhale, raise your heels, look forward, jump or step to the front.

Straight legs, inhale, look forward, exhale, forward bend. Inhale come all the way up, arms to the sky, and then exhale your hands down to your sides. Let's turn toward the long edge of the mat, and we'll start with an understanding of pronation and supination. This will be our first exploration into going from the periphery of the body deeper into a sense of stillness and meditation. Take a moment with me to feel this.

As you're standing with feet apart, allow the arches to collapse inward and see what happens to the body. You'll feel the knees rolling in, the hips stick out, and the chest starts to fall forward. That's called pronation. Let's do the opposite now, where we roll the arches out called supination. You'll notice the legs outwardly spiral.

The sacrum and tailbone are naturally drawn down, and the chest begins to lift. We're going to use this concept in the lateral poses here to really open up the body and look for that meditative sense. Starting with wide legs, we're going to work triangle pose first. Left toes in, right leg out. We're going to do this first one as an experiment, okay, and see what you feel.

Allow the right foot, front foot here, to pronate or collapse at the arch. Notice that the knee caves in, this makes the bottom go out backward, and take any form or any depth of triangle pose from this that you can. You can just see the shape in my body is not really crying out meditative calmness, and the neck is kinked, the shoulder is all kinked, okay? So I want you to experience this just for a second, as long as you're not in any pain or things like that, but just to notice what we'll call kinks in the various parts of the body, the various joints. Okay, now come up.

That was with pronation. Let's do some supination now, where we bring more energy to the outer edge of the foot. We see the knee and thigh spiral out. That helps the tail go down and the chest to come up. Be there for just a moment experiencing that.

Stretch your arms. Now you've maybe heard the word mantra before in meditation, where we hold a tone or a word. We're holding a tone in the physical body, an energy or an action, that supination. Let's reach for triangle pose now, holding a little energy at the outer foot. Leg is spiraling, sacrum and tailbone down, chest is open.

And see how it's different for you. I'm not going to say right or wrong, just notice what's different. Is there a sense of calmness here that wasn't in the other pose? Is the top shoulder, is the neck more free? And in this way, we can build a more deep meditative state as we continue to practice.

Then inhale, come up, rest your arms, turn your feet in. Right toes in, left leg out, and we're going to go right into the supination version, the more open version, a little bit more weight on the outer edge of the foot, left foot turns the thigh out, grips the buttock in, sacrum and tailbone rolling down or deeper into the body we could say, chest up, arms open. The mantra is holding that physical action of supination as we come out. And you have to take your time and feel, I've still got it, I've still got it, still have that supination action, and we're here. Happen again with your awareness, feel that energy of supination opening up.

Left thigh is rolling outward, external rotation, sacrum and tailbone are rolling down towards the right heel, chest is elongating and opening. The longer we hold, we can start to see where the meditation or that mantra has failed or has left us, you know, so recharge and experience what that does. You could say, exist in that space, inhale, come on. Turn the feet in, let's walk the legs together for a moment, take a pause. Next pose, wide legs again, side angle, these are poses we've seen before but we're diving much more deeply.

Left toes in, right leg out, again with the supination chain, outer edge of the right foot, outward spiral of the right leg, sacrum and tailbone down, chest up and arms out. Take a breath in, exhale, bend that right knee but keep that feeling of opening here at the leg, sacrum and tailbone down, lift the chest. And just to test it, we're using the right side as our tester here, you can see what happens to the chest if you poke your tail out, the pressure it puts here, the grip of your lower back, changes the knee and all of that sort of distorts our ability to hold attention in a broad open sense. Okay, let's straighten the leg one more time, outward spiral, tailbone down, chest up, bend the knee and extend over the right leg, if you need a block, you can grab a block, we'll be here for a little bit and the left arm over your head. Holding the energy we've been talking about, outward spiral of the right leg, sacrum and tailbone down to open the chest and you'll see over time perhaps how your awareness will begin to spread throughout the entire body instead of being caught in one area, maybe a knee, a low back that is protesting you could say.

Inhale come up, right foot in, rest your arms, press down through your legs, second side, right toes in, left leg out, stretch your arms, outward spiral, left leg, sacrum and tailbone down, chest up, big breath in, exhale, bend the left knee, keep that energy we're talking about, outward spiral, sacrum and tailbone down as you extend to your pose and then turning the right hand to reach over the ear. Ways of practicing here you'll know if your attention or awareness isn't spread well if it just seems to hone in on one area, that's an area asking for more of an adjustment. Again I'm always hesitant to say correction or right or wrong, that sort of thing. You have to feel what adjustment really helps spread that awareness for you but that is using asana for meditation and inhale come up, turn the feet to center. We pause in tadasana.

Here balanced feet, tailbone down, chest up, absorbing that space, wide legs. Next pose is half moon pose, you might want to block for this, left toes in, right leg out. Let's go into a little bit more quickly, outward spiral, tailbone down, chest up, stretch the arms, inhale, exhale, we'll go through a side angle where we just were. Left hand to your hip, right hand reaches out, walk in. Now pause here, do the external rotation we've practiced in the previous poses.

Sacrum and tailbone down, don't be in a hurry to jump up. Reach out again, step in again, reconfirm all of those actions and slowly up, weight on the outer right foot, right leg outward spiral, tailbone stretching toward the left heel and from that the chest begins to open. We can stay looking at the floor so we can feel the actions and see anywhere the body is not quite feeling as open as it can. Now rest in that space you've created. Slowly bend your standing leg, graceful landing and come up.

Side number two, right toes in, left leg out, outward spiral, left leg, sacrum and tailbone down lifts the chest, arms out, bend your knee, side angle. Let's take the top hand to the hip, left hand reaches forward, step in back leg. Do all those actions we've talked about, left hand reaches forward, right leg in and then keeping the external rotation of the left leg, tailbone reaching toward right heel, physically moving toward the right heel, we come up. Chest is long and open and you have to scan now with that awareness. Any one part, not feeling as open as it could, grabbing and holding the attention.

And bend the standing leg and one more graceful landing and come up. Bring the feet all the way together, mountain pose tadasana. Check in the space, breathe it out a little, tailbone down, chest lifting and then wide legs, warrior two. Before we do warrior two, press the legs down heavily through the heels, take the sacrum and tailbone down, left toes in, right leg out, outward spiral right leg, sacrum and tailbone down. Stretch out the arms, exhale to bend the right knee, hold here.

What I find in this pose is often we're leaning forwardly which is this chest forward direction which tends to make us collapse a little. It's challenging with this kind of balance but I'm going to ask you to bring your body back that way so you really feel the back edge of your left heel. Let that movement of your body now help that tailbone to go down, front of the pelvis up, chest up and holding here with me, warrior two. The more that sacrum and tailbone go down, the more the inner body is supported and the awareness, if we can say this, calms and spreads to the whole body. Straighten the leg, toes in, a little pause.

Right toes in, left leg out, sacrum and tailbone down, front of the body lifting and stretch your arms. Breath in, keep that tailbone down, heavy on the outside, back edge of your right heel and then bending into the pose. If at any time you're not sure, do the opposite, stick your tail out a little, instantly I feel my body collapse and go right to the stress points, not meditative. So we find this openness again and it's like the body holds itself. And then straightening the leg, turn the feet in, let's find mountain pose.

Look for the space. Is it any easier to feel or sense that space in your body? If not today, there'll be more there tomorrow. Good, let's turn to the front. Feet together, stretch up, inhale, holding here.

Press that sacrum and tailbone down to feel that the front and inner body are lifting. By inner I just mean the insides of the trunk. Big breath in, exhale, uttanasana, forward fold. Strong legs, kneecaps lifting and hands to the floor, plank pose, big breath in. Exhale chaturanga, strong core and it's the same here, tucking the tail a little gives you that abdominal support.

Dog inhale and down dog breathe out. Take a few breaths with me and down dog. Let's take an easy child's pose. Let the breath recover. Follow me into dog pose again.

Hands out, toes under, lift the knees and bring the feet together. Then left leg up nice and high, right heel nice and high. Now this next version of dog pose is going to be just like what we did standing. Turn the pelvis open but keep that right leg, the standing leg, externally rotating. Roll the outer thigh more and more.

This is what helps to open the pelvis. Return to middle, left foot down. Let's try it on the right. Raise the right leg up, left heel very high and again with that standing leg we want that external rotation that's just like our forward leg in triangle pose. Roll out the left thigh, sacrum and tailbone, they stretch, they move, they roll toward the right heel, the lifted leg heel and then land again.

Let's take another child's pose. Take a few breaths, release the arms. Then press up, we'll be taking a seating position, might be nice to grab a blanket for this to give us a little extra space and motion here. We'll bring the blanket, have a seat and we're going to go into a wide leg position here. Now just like we've been practicing we're going to use that external rotation in this pose as well.

If we were to come forward and roll the legs in there's a collapse and an overstretch in the groin here. All the attention will go there and we won't be able to spread the awareness for the meditative effect of asana. So here we want to roll the thighs out and down toward the mat, out and down. With your awareness in that external rotation and we'll say pinning the outer thigh down, hands behind you on the mat and lift your chest. Holding there, we're going to come forward but go slowly enough that you don't feel the thighs collapsing and rolling in.

Come forward just a little bit with that feeling of rolling the outer hips and outer thighs down. We can bring the hands forward to support some of our body weight now and take your time. If this is as far as you go then this is as far as you go today. If there's more available come forward but again holding the outer thighs down. I'm going to take it to the forearms.

We could say lift the inner foot, inner calf, inner thigh, both legs to help roll the outer thigh down. You may be able to stretch forward further. If it's available to you go for it. If not, continue to work on holding those legs strongly down, outer edge. In my body I can feel this leg knows how to do this well.

This one always needs a little extra encouragement to get that feeling. You might feel something like that in your body. That's perfectly normal and that's how we work into balancing the body. Walk back up, lean back, grab the inner knees, draw the legs in, new pose Janu Sirshasana. We'll change the blanket alignment so that we're on the mat.

Sit up to the blanket, extend the legs out and we'll start with the left leg bent first. Draw out that left leg and bring it in. If you'd like to, you could put a block or folded blanket under your knee to support you if it doesn't go comfortably down. I'm going to shift a little off to the left so the blanket isn't holding up my leg. In this pose, this is our externally rotating leg.

We're going to leave it calm and passive. Right hand on the blanket to lift and bringing the left arm forward any amount. This side is always relaxed backward while I'm extending the trunk forward. If you can bring the right arm forward to maybe catch the foot or calf or maybe even a strap, here's our pose. We're going to try to level both sides of the spine by rolling the left side trunk down.

Still hold here. Breathing. Check in. That left knee and hip love to grip in this pose. And then come out, tall spine, extend your leg.

I'll shift over to the right side of my mat to give me the freedom to open up the right leg and let that knee down. Take a moment to pacify that right leg and hip. Remember, we want it to feel as though it's going a little bit back. Then turning the trunk and coming forward. You can reach for the foot, calf, strap, and we'll come into the pose.

And then coming up, extend the right leg, Paschimottanasana. Here we're going to let go of the externally rotating legs and just work on bringing the legs together as a counter pose. Reach underneath one hip at a time and move the skin and muscle back a little. Hands on the blanket, sit up nice and tall, energize your legs, energize your feet, and then extending forward. Reach for calves, feet, strap, whichever is right for you, and then you can bend the elbows gently out to the side, releasing the head towards the legs.

Releasing the inner legs a little together, then coming up, we'll take Dandasana for just one more moment, staff pose, and then release. Come down off the blanket, let's put it off to the side, but we'll have it ready for a blanket in our final Shavasana. Lie down on your back, and we'll do a shoulder stand. You can start by bending your knees, hands down alongside you, a breath in as you exhale, draw the knees to the chest, unfurl your legs to kick up. You can tuck the shoulders underneath and support your back.

You could start with the knees about parallel to the face, and just a quick reminder, we're not going into a full straight up and down shoulder stand because we don't have the blankets here to support the shoulders and free the neck, so we're just kind of doing a half shoulder stand. And again, legs can be parallel, or if you like, you can reach them up. This is an opportunity here to practice spreading the awareness through your body in this particular pose. With practice, that ability to spread your awareness becomes better and stronger, and it is the beginning of an effortless state of meditation. And bend your knees again, allow the feet to drop overhead as you slowly roll down.

Pause there. This is a great time to grab that blanket again, and we'll slide it underneath the head and the neck, but not the shoulders. And center yourself on your mat. Lengthen the buttocks a little away from the lower back. One by one, tuck the shoulders to support open your chest.

All that work we've done today to help open the chest, we're going to give some support, and then legs slowly out on the floor. Allow the legs to relax, letting them drop side to side. Let your eyes close. Fingers soft. And using some of the practice today, see how you can spread your awareness to feel further and further into your body.

Down the legs, down the arms, and it's as though, yes, you relax the physical body, but it's as though you relax your own awareness. And let it spread to the sides. And take as long as you like with this awareness practice, let your body rest and recover. When you're ready to come up, you can rest your hands on your tummy, and bend your legs one by one. Turn onto your right side for just a breath or two.

Support your head on your pillow, and then pressing your way up to a comfortable sitting position. Our first practice in the theme of integration, I'm really excited to share this information to dive even more deeply with you in our upcoming practices. Have a tremendous day and see if you notice your awareness start to grow. Day by day as we do this. I'll see you in the next practice, namaste.

Comments

Ali
Ali
5 people like this.
I found this super- interesting. I have been experimenting with a standing desk at work and have also started wearing barefoot shoes. I have noticed that I am often rolling my feet out into their outer edges (extreme supernation) to wake myself up. Now I know why! I loved this first integration class. Thank you.
Nathan Briner
Ali, super happy to have you all this way through the challenge. And thank you for stopping in to share your experiences along the way. It’s been great connecting with you here. 
Kate M
3 people like this.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am in the process of rereading Iyengar's Light on Yoga. These sequences are providing me with an experiential awareness of the concepts BKSI talks about! Spreading the awareness throughout the body: this may require a few lifetimes!! LOL!
Nathan Briner
Kate! I hear you. There is so much to discover and uncover. It’s great to be on the journey with you :)
Lyse B
1 person likes this.
This was so interesting.... I have fallen arches so the pronation was easy but what I noticed when consciously supinating is that my balance improved. In the wide leg posture however, rolling out the straight leg, I seemed to have less forward bend. Maybe I was relying on stretching the ligaments instead of the chest? I loved staying in the poses long enough to raise awareness in my body vs. trying to do the pose. Thanks Nathan, look forward to the next.
Lyse B
2 people like this.
Oh, and I'm starting to understand the use of the block to provide support, not as a crutch because I can't do what you do, but as a way to relax supported in the pose. That has been an Aha for me in the last couple of classes...
Nathan Briner
Lyse, your first question about less forward bending capacity... when the thighs roll externally (quads out) it effectively halts deeper forward bending. Those who have very mobile hips will often over fold the hips joints. So having the cue to roll the thighs out is helpful for them. Tighter folks often need to learn to move the inner, upper thigh back (through) to allow for better hip folding. 
Nathan Briner
Lyse, yes! You nailed it! That is exactly what props are for. And when the calm ease is produced in the pose, the mind can become tranquil. This provides an open clarity to become acquainted with the observing principle of awareness. 
Christel B
1 person likes this.
Great to have this deep focus time!  I've been finding it difficult (It never was an issue before....age?) to reach over my head, to get the long line foot to hand, in side angle to the floor pose.  When I used the block it was available again.  
Nathan Briner
Christel, I am happy to hear that you’ve been able to tap into new depth with the help of the block. I am right there with you. Sometimes the body just doesn’t quite want to go that extra inch. Props are so helpful to finding the pose deeply and safely :)
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